TO:44 – Ryoji Ikeda “Matrix”

Double CD in gatefold wallet
2008 second edition, without postcards

Track list:

Matrix [For Rooms] (1999-2000)
1-01 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 (12:00)
1-02 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 (5:30)
1-03 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 (4:30)
1-04 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 (5:30)
1-05 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 (4:30)
1-06 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 (5:30)
1-07 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 (4:30)
1-08 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 (5:30)
1-09 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 (4:30)
1-10 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 (7:57)

.Matrix (1999-2000)
2-01 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 (3:02)
2-02 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 (2:24)
2-03 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 (1:00)
2-04 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 (1:27)
2-05 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 (3:34)
2-06 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 (2:42)
2-07 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 (4:55)
2-08 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 (5:22)
2-09 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 (0:59)
2-10 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 (5:32)

Matrix is the final element in a trilogy of CDs that began with +/- in 1996. When it was first released, +/- came like a bolt out of the white. Nobody had used digital recording processes to produce sound as pure, as intense and as exhilarating. Since releasing 0°C in 1998, Ryoji Ikeda has progressively refined and enhanced the distinctive sonic fields and microsounds that have strongly influenced post-digital composition, resisting the transitory cycle suggested by the term ‘Glitches’, creating compositions that probe deeply: our relationships to time and space, sound and light. Much of the time since 1998 has been spent touring with the Japanese performance group, Dumb Type, whose landmark show [OR] is shortly to be followed by a new presentation for which Ikeda has composed the sound, Memorandum. In January 2000, Ryoji Ikeda toured the UK with Zoviet*France. A closer connection to the 20 new recordings that make up Matrix can be found on the recent Touch 00 sampler, Matrix for an Anechoic Room, which came out in Spring 2000. That’s the only forewarning of what awaits you on putting the first CD into your player. The layers of sound that make up Matrix [for rooms] transform both the listener and the listening environment into another dimension. The dimensions change as you move about the space, or simply turn your head around the sound like surveying the angles of a building. Matrix has much in common with the work of La Monte Young, Tony Conrad, Alvin Lucier…, but poised closer to the imminent and auto-interactive virtual world we are promised, Ryoji Ikeda’s new work pushes the parameters of the drone to ask timely questions concerning our relationship to own perception, and to our existing living spaces.



Lost in a noetic neverland of anechoic rooms, acute sensorial deprivation, and reductio ad absurdum remixology, Ryoji Ikeda’s work has surrendered only a smattering of thrills since his landmark +/- (1996). Matrix is right to revisit the dual design of 1998’s Time / Space 2×3″-CD set (perhaps Ikeda’s most satisfying concept-over-content conceit in recent years), raising hopes for a return to top form. And, for the most part, Matrix delivers on such promises. With microsonic pursuits now commonplace on volume levels ranging from subliminal (*0, Bernhard Günter) to visceral (Pan Sonic, Pomassl), Ikeda’s waveplay wisely doesn’t attempt to deliver the equillibrium-upsetting impact of +/-. Instead, Ikeda tries his hand at invisible sonarchitecture. The wavering sinewaves and fibrillating frequencies of “Matrix [For Rooms]” travel the full circuit of your speaker setup, imposing a structure of unseen walls and enclosures upon one’s listening space. Despite a statement that “the listener’s movement transforms the phenomenon into his/her intrapersonal music,” the disc’s digitally embedded blueprints offer little opportunity for interaction. Movement within the speakers’ perimeter does not alter Ikeda’s designs. One might as well sit still, allowing each of the 10 tracks to dart and circle, stitching its prescribed microsonic seams. “Matrix [For Rooms]” rewards such concentration with the awareness of subsonic spiders deliberately and delicately drawing unseen parameters around one’s physical form. If not quite the ear-altering experience of +/-, it’s no less intriguing a sensation. That said, however, a full hour of such (in)activity is more ideally suited to an installation environment, not one’s livingspace.

The second disc (“.Matrix”) only disappoints in replaying too many of Ikeda’s familiar headphonic gambits. But his speaker-panning pulses and felt-but-not-heard sonar tonalities still elicit a smile, as does the ingenious layering of complex audio effects. Alas, in the post-+/- years, disciples like Noto and Richard Chartier have explored every mappable micron in microsonic space. Even with Ikeda’s gleefully groovy technocentric rhythmic sensibilities in full effect, “.Matrix” finds no new territory. It’s a welcome bonus, far more engaging than its conceptual companion disc, but it’s little more than 30 minutes of innocuous fun-with-digital audio.

re:mote Induction:

Matrix is the third in a trilogy of releases by influential Japanese composer Ryoji Ikeda on the UK label Touch. As a release it is 2CD set which works as two distinct ideas to a degree – matrix [for rooms] and .matrix. Each disc follows a similar pattern, in that each features 10 tracks that represent a 10×10 matrix, with the first disc representing the scale 0000000001 to 1000000000 and the second from 1111111110 to 0111111111. matrix [for rooms] is the more difficult of the discs in some ways, as it represents the recordings from an installation piece. The matrix describing a spatial environment, with the nodes in that environment being represented by sound – the result should be that as a person travels through that spatial collection the sounds should interact according to the route they take. The result should be dependent on that individual, which is fine for the real time installation. But as a recording it will be more difficult to recreate that sensation, as each piece is essentially one tone fluctuating for a period as a representation of a node. For the most part this documents the installation rather than recreating it, providing the listener with only a sense of the potential.

Taking the disc as is the following is what we experience, though some variation could be generated by using a random function on your player: 0000000001 sets up a low pulse, maintained in a slow increase of penetrative drones. Hints of a wavering edge as the frequency of the rotation decreases gradually. This is an overwhelming focus, the pulse becoming a strobe approximation, then a subtle sequence. Again a shift so that the pulse has a clearer definition in tones that suggests an almost rhythmic fluctuation. Slowly increasing frequency once more. But in the process changing the affect of the sound between, to an almost sub-audible clipping. 0000000010 introduces a second tone, a more bas orientated hum. Behind which the affect of 0000000001 seems to fade till the hum has a definite dominance. Again this starts at a certain frequency and slows, but being at a different tonal level we get a different result; indeed the slow down is more pronounced. In time becoming narcoleptic, the slowing of sound and sustain of bass shifting in to 0000000100. The pitch of the sound shifted mildly, less pronounced than 0000000001 to 0000000010. Raising the frequency to a seesaw then lowering a notch. This sets up the sort of spiral that could almost inspire sea sickness. A second tone comes in, more periodic and brusque – momentary tick then it is gone as the primary sound deepens with slow rotations. Within a separate oscillation seems to develop with the turn to 0000001000, taking over the flow in an almost unnoticed switch. This maintains a progress of a form that is by now familiar. Sustaining a tonal back and forth we move on to the swing of 0000010000, like a hypnotist gathering a subject’s focus. Minimising as the sound itself focuses. As before another tone come up, different again, and triggering change to 0000100000. This is a higher sound, closer to 0000000001, with the last purr of 0000010000 barely maintained as this is increasingly established. As it continues we have the impression of an almost constant sound, though we can still detect the fluctuant inferences in the flow. Increasing and shifting to provide another aspect of the pulse stream. Slowing a degree so that the oscillating pattern is more discernible once more, which flows into 0001000000, deceptively becoming a more solid sound once more. Higher pulse like a warm stroke of metallic edge, setting a vibrant example. Increasing to rise in pitch, to pierce, with little dips at the peak of the component wave. Evening out in more equilibrium based level. Streamlining we shift to 0010000000, a higher sound coming in at a reduced level and rising as with previous transitions. Working the two levels against each other till the new pitch is dominant, the old carrying on just that little extra and then gone. Strangely each new piercing level seems more so than the last, though this could be a perception affected by the way the sounds shift like this to become slowly less piercing. Slowing frequency in itself strips a degree of intensity. then shifting pitch a notch and increasing frequency again to a spiral that plays with the edges of insinuation. Approaching invisibility then flitting through a pulse form the sound intensifies back up to a tight funnel, which represents the move on to 0100000000. The level of spectrum that this piece attains flirts with spectral. Becoming something of a wash that doesn’t entirely seem tangible. Then it is dopplering off itself, creating a curious spatial sensation in the process. A note forms with passage to 1000000000, its momentary inflection hooking into the sounds of 0100000000 and dragging the frequency down. The interplay works on a certain extreme of tonal shifts. Slowing, to become gradual rotary strokes. Focusing into a line, sine form flattening. A deeper sound comes up, allowing a shift in the overall effect of this track. In contrast to the introduction of low tone comes a high tone on the edge of hearing, approaching ever nearer as existing levels slow further. 1000000000 clearly being the culmination of the CD in the way that it is allowing as much change and detail as has occurred over the entire course of the previous 9 parts. A process which continues to work with the distinction of elements, to a point which surely is of the highest frequency achieved here and really does risk leaving the range of audibility. Of course even then it still has an effect on your perception, before the album is in fact over, and even so the lasting effect of the last level is felt in my ears. With consideration there is a clear overlap between the elements of the proposed “nodes” of the matrix, which leaves me curious as to how the “real” thing was set up and how pure a representation of the installation these pieces are.

By contrast .matrix is considerably more accessible than matrix [for rooms], in that it is more about composition than installation, though one can detect continuity in the sound palate used between the two discs. 1111111110 starts with a slight pulse, periodic brush against hearing, low rotation coming up and in turn boosting the initial sound to a more audible level. A third level starts up, another rotation, a flitting spin that works off the existing detail. With a marked pulse that sets up a spatial rhythm we have 1111111101. This bobs to the fore with waves to back it up, working it’s way in, to draw the listener’s attention. Filtered down again to the bare transmission of blip signal comes 1111111011. Setting up an echo, and a mild skip breath punctuation. This moves on to 1111110111, a brush pulse and the insinuation of click detail. The clicks become more pinprick pulses, finely toned. Bass comes up as a deepened pulse allowing for the more rhythmic form of 1111101111. Gases are released in little fizzes that mix in with the flow of the shifting pulse details. A background stroke offers an approximate bass line, it’s fluctuation note like. A new pulse and echo triggers the change to 1111011111, and in the process we are another step towards an accessible simulation of techno in minimal blip form. Snare like sounds plunge in momentary motion, repeating to go with the other layers. A light stroke brushes an edge, a kind of whistling that leads to 1110111111. Wavering notes and sounds give a denser feel to this piece, again an almost techno feel. Micro dunts tack along while electronic signals blip and chop through programmed sequences. Vapour snare catches. A sturdy bass pulse taking over. A blip pulse sequence and periodic bass dip starts off 1101111111. Tightening in a spiral with time, then with the filtered level extruding the impression of sound outwards. A spin tone comes up in the background, a slow upwards spiral that is gradually approaching the surface. In turn the previous more in to a slow fade, and as the sound moves to the fore it filters down to a low sustained drone that marks the start of 1011111111. Again this shifts a notch and in turn triggers 0111111111. A low bass pulse hints at a presence, with a more pronounced intonation. This works through periods of low humming spiral and layered pulses.